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Marshmallow :: Althaea officinalis

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Marshmallow :: Althaea officinalis

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Live Marshmallow Plants
Althaea officinalis

The primary use for Marshmallow Leaf in modern herbal medicine is to relieve sore throat, but it also relieves perianal inflammation (when taken orally) caused by severe diarrhea.

It is often used internally for bronchitis, asthma, hiatus hernia, cystitis, and mucus.

And externally for insect bites, mastitis, boils and gangrene.

Marshmallow is a perennial herb native throughout damp areas of northern Europe and western Asia. It is now naturalized to the Atlantic coast of the United States and used as an ornamental for its pointed foliage and purple flowers. References to marshmallow leaf as a healing herb are found in Homer's Iliad, written over 2,800 years ago. Its genus name Althaea comes from the Greek altho, to cure, and its order name, Malvaceae, is derived from the Greek malake, which means soft. Marshmallow leaf was widely used in traditional Greek medicine. The use of the herb spread from Greece to Arabia and India, where it became an important herb in the Ayurvedic and Unani healing traditions. All of these traditions used marshmallow as a soothing agent: demulcent, diuretic, emollient, and vulnerary. The German E Commission wrote that both the leaf and the root were good for sore throat and dry cough. Pliny the Elder believed that mallows could cure all the diseases of man and even wrote that "whoever shall take a spoonful of the mallows shall that day be free from all diseases that came to him". The Romans used it primarily as a roasted vegetable, and was mentioned in both Arabic and Chinese literature as a good food during times of famine.


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